Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 17th, 2007

Making this tomorrow

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From Simply Recipes. I’ll use agave syrup instead of sugar because agave syrup has a very low glycemic index.

What is it about a black bean salad that practically shouts, “summer potluck”? The mercury has been edging past a hundred degrees lately here and I’ve been getting nostalgic for some of the picnic foods I remember having often as a kid. The basic structure of a black bean salad is black beans (canned or freshly made) with corn kernels (canned, frozen, or fresh). Parsley, basil or cilantro can add a bitter to the flavors. Tomatoes, lemon juice and or lime juice some acid. Jalapeño or cumin will give it a kick, and avocado and olive oil will smooth it down. I find adding a little bit of sugar almost always helps balance the acid from the citrus and tomatoes, and makes for a better tasting salad.

Obviously, this salad will be extra good if you have freshly cooked corn and beans on hand. But if you don’t, just use the canned beans and frozen corn (we used white corn here).

1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, thoroughly rinsed, and drained (or 1 1/2 cup of freshly cooked black beans)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, defrosted (or fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled)
1/2 cup chopped green onions or shallots
2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced, or 1 whole pickled jalapeño pepper, minced (not seeded)
3 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
2 Tbsp lime juice (about the amount of juice from one lime)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sugar (to taste) [or 1/2 Tbsp agave syrup – LG]
Salt and pepper to taste

Make sure to rinse and drain the beans, if you are using canned beans.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, onions, jalapeno chile peppers, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, basil, lime juice and olive oil. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste. (The sugar will help balance the acidity from the tomatoes and lime juice.) Chill before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 4:14 pm

Another ultrasonic triumph

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I just cleaned an old Hoffritz slant-bar I bought a while back on eBay. While the head of the razor was in pretty good shape, there was a bunch of brown corrosion around the bottom that looked as though saltwater had attacked the razor.

So I was looking for razors to clean (i.e., I was playing with the ultrasonic cleaner) and put that razor in with the usual mix: hot water, a little dishwashing detergent, and about 1/4 cup of white vinegar.

Well, it wasn’t corrosion at all. It was an accumulation of hard-water deposits. I assume that wherever it was used had not only very hard water but also iron in the water, which had colored the calcification. It all came off and left the entire handle clean and shiny. Truly, it looks like a brand-new razor. I’ll use it tomorrow.

Man, I love my ultrasonic cleaner. Too bad it’s too small for pots and pans.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Government misconduct in criminal cases

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The Innocence Project has discovered a disturbing number of instances of various sorts of government misconduct aimed at securing convictions by inappropriate (and often illegal) means. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Government

Help is on the way to the VA

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Read this entire post—the good news is in the second half. The first half just establishes how very much the help is needed by quoting extensively from this Washington Post article.

You’ll note that, when presented with substantial help for American veterans who have fought in the Iraq War, Bush’s first move was to threaten to veto the bill. “Compassionate conservatism” my ass.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 1:16 pm

Gonzales going to stop “trouble” in its tracks

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“Trouble” has various meanings. In the lexicon of Alberto Gonzales, “trouble” from US Attorneys is a rigorous and independent and party-blind pursuit of justice. So Gonzales is going to tighten the reins and tamp down “trouble” before it starts:

Atty Gen. Alberto Gonzales so far has survived a political crisis over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, a rare potential vote of no-confidence in the Senate and numerous calls for his resignation.

His response? Gonzales recently proposed tightening the leash on the men and women who prosecute federal crimes across the nation.

Gonzales described what he delicately calls “a more vigorous and a little bit more formal process” for annually evaluating prosecutors. What that means, as he explained it, is hauling in every U.S. attorney for a meeting to hear, among other things, politicians’ beefs against the prosecutor.

If that should happen, expect the fair-mindedness and independence Americans still count on from their Justice Department to slip.

In testimony to Congress and comments at the National Press Club, Gonzales framed the meetings as a way of improving communications. But it also looks a lot like a way to remind recalcitrant U.S. attorneys what the home team expects.

On Friday, a spokesman for Gonzales insisted in a written statement that the attorney general has no intention of holding one-on-ones with every U.S. attorney.

“The view of the overwhelming majority of U.S. attorneys is that they do not want a new, formalized review process — including one that might involve annual one-on-one meetings between each U.S. attorney and the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General. We have listened and agree with these views,” the spokesman said.

But later Friday a senior Justice Department official said one-on-one meetings are still on the table. “We haven’t ruled that out,” the official said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 1:09 pm

“Duty, Honor, Country, and Cover Up Scandals”

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Read this disheartening story. The military seems as corrupt now as the political sphere. The story begins:

On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.

If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army’s initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:

Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.

Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant. Craddock’s daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba’s two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, “Craddock just said, very coldly, ‘Wait here.’ ” In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were “only Iraqis.” Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”

In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. “Could you tell us what happened?” Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, “Is it abuse or torture?” At that point, Taguba recalled, “I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, ‘That’s not abuse. That’s torture.’ There was quiet.”

Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. “General,” he asked, “who do you think leaked the report?” Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. “It was just my speculation,” he recalled. “Rumsfeld didn’t say anything.” (I did not meet Taguba until mid-2006 and obtained his report elsewhere.) Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. “Here I am,” Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, “just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this.” As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, “He’s looking at me. It was a statement.”

At best, Taguba said, “Rumsfeld was in denial.” Taguba had submitted more than a dozen copies of his report through several channels at the Pentagon and to the Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, which ran the war in Iraq. By the time he walked into Rumsfeld’s conference room, he had spent weeks briefing senior military leaders on the report, but he received no indication that any of them, with the exception of General Schoomaker, had actually read it. (Schoomaker later sent Taguba a note praising his honesty and leadership.) When Taguba urged one lieutenant general to look at the photographs, he rebuffed him, saying, “I don’t want to get involved by looking, because what do you do with that information, once you know what they show?”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 12:40 pm

Culling the collection: G.B. Kent BK8

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Kent brush

Trying to save a little space, I’m culling the brush collection a bit. This very lightly used G.B. Kent BK8 served in the cover photo of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving, shown in the background. Sorry to see it go, but the BK4 turns out to be a better size for me (for lathering directly on my beard). Sic transit gloria mundi, as the Younger Daughter would say. (You can buy the brush, together with a copy of the book, here.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Books, Shaving

Money-saving Firefox extensions

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Via Lifehacker, 20 Firefox extensions that save you money so you can buy more shaving gear. For example:

4. Grocery List Generator 1.5: I was tickled pink when I found this one. Sad, but true… GLG organizes information by items (i.e. chicken), category ( i.e. meat), and dish (i.e. fried chicken). When you first install the extension, take some time and enter all the items you typically buy at the grocery store as ingredients. There’s even categories for ‘Household & Personal Hygiene’ and ‘Drugstore’, so you can enter those types of items, too.

The easiest way to explain how you can save money with GLG is with an example of how I would use it. I read a lot of blogs using an RSS reader, including one from a food stylist in LA (yeah, I know). In May he posted a great recipe for sopapillas. With GLG, I pop open the extension and enter a dish ’sopapillas’. If I don’t have any dishes that use the same ingredients, I first add the ingredients as items and then add them to the dish. I copy the link of the post into the comments of the dish so I can find the measurements later, and then forget about the whole thing.

Later in the week I open GLG when I go through the weekly sales papers online. If chicken is on sale, I click the plus sign next to chicken and include the store and the price in the comments. I browse through my list of dishes, and find sopapillas. Those sound good, so I add that dish. When I click ‘Generate List’, I get a printable grocery list. This list is organized by category and includes the items I’ve chosen along with their comments ( i.e. chicken, ‘Bloom, 49c per pound’); it also includes the ingredients for any recipes I’ve selected. Print it out, take it to my stores, and I’m good to go.


Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 11:06 am

Posted in Firefox, Software

Better virus protection

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I have used Symantec’s Norton Anti-Virus for a long time—in fact, since the time a McAfee anti-virus update was weird and I got 7 pages of instructions emailed to me on how to fix the problem.

Recently Norton got cranky and even seemed to lose some functionality. So I went looking. At first I found AVG free edition, but that wasn’t satisfactory: it put clunky messages at the end of my email (a combination of a commercial and  pressure to buy the non-free version), and it insisted on running daily.

So back to reading reviews. I found that Webroot Spy Sweeper, which I use to keep out and/or remove spyware, has teamed with Sophos (an enterprise-level anti-virus system from the UK—very good package) to add anti-virus capabilities to Spy Sweeper. So Spy Sweeper now guards against both viruses and spyware, and the same sweep will detect and remove both spyware and viruses. And it got a very high rating from both PC Magazine’s editors and regular users.

I was able to add the Sophos capability to my Spy Sweeper for just $10, so away I go. On its very first sweep, it removed 171 objects, and any number of peculiar little difficulties my computer system had developed vanished—plus the computer sped up noticeably.

I’m a very happy camper, virus-wise.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 11:01 am

Posted in Software

No shaving, just cleaning…

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The cleaning ladies come on Wednesday, so I start getting organized for that today. The Wife came over last night for dinner and a movie. The chicken was a recipe from The Minimalist Cooks at Home: Recipes That Give You More Flavor from Fewer Ingredients in Less Time, a cookbook that I’m really enjoying. I made Chicken with Riesling (page 116), dead easy and very tasty, with pasta in an unusual shape from The Wife.

The movie was Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, a documentary about Theremin and his electronic instruments. I thought the documentary was exceptionally good, and Alert Reader would be particularly interested in the interview with Brian Wilson about how the Theremin came to be used in “Good Vibrations,” a record that Capitol didn’t want to release. And my friend in Columbus will enjoy the segments with Moog. Very good.

Chicken with Riesling

Especially good if made well in advance and served the second day. Bittman strongly recommends that you go for a top-quality Riesling from Germany: since the ingredients are few and simple, the wine you pick will make a big difference.

2 Tbs. butter or canola oil
4 medium-to-large onions (about 1.5 lbs), peeled and sliced (I don’t know where he gets his large onions, but 2 of my large onions was 1 lb 15 oz)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1.5 – 2 cups off-dry Riesling
One 3-4 lb chicked, preferably kosher or free-range, cut into 8-10 serving pieces

Place the butter in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken and turn heat to medium. Add the onions, a large pinch of salt, and some pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften completely and begin to melt into a soft mass, about 20 minutes. If you want, you can cook the onions 10 minutes more, until they begin to darken in color.

Add 1.5 cups of the wine and let it bubble away for minute, then tuck the chicken pieces among the onions; sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and cover the skillet.

Cook, turning the chicken pieces once or twice, for 40-60 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender. (The meat on the drumsticks will begin to loosen from the bone). If the dish appears to be drying out at any point, add the remaining wine. (I didn’t need to do this.)

Serve the chicken with crusty bread or white rice or or other grain or pasta, spooning the onions and their liquid over all.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2007 at 9:14 am

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